Regarding the Feb. 3 Politics & the Nation article “Hunting is declining, creating a crisis for conservation”:

I have hunted for most of my life, and I know many people who also hunt. I primarily hunt waterfowl — ducks and geese. In recent years, I have noticed a big drop in the seasonal migration of waterfowl.

I have hunted geese in Northern Virginia, in areas near Berryville down to Culpeper. Several times, I was amazed at the number of birds in the air. It was similar to many mornings I spent near Chestertown, Md., on the Eastern Shore hunting geese. Hundreds, if not thousands, of birds in the air. A thrilling sight!

In the fall and winter, geese and ducks are forced south by freezing temperatures that ice over open water, including brackish marshes, ponds and lakes. The same cold conditions keep dormant crop fields, where waterfowl feed, covered with snow. To survive, the waterfowl must migrate to more temperate climes. But this has not happened for several years. I am afraid, given recent temperature trends, it will not happen again anytime soon.

Blair Caviness, Washington

State hunting and fishing licenses do support conservation, but mainly for game species. In contrast, the vast majority of funding for conserving and recovering federally threatened and endangered species comes from federal funding; on average, just 5 percent is reported to come from states. Moreover, much of the funding for state-identified “species of greatest conservation need” also comes from federal programs, primarily the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grant programs. The Endangered Species Act has done a tremendous job saving species from extinction, but far too many continue to decline because of inadequate funding at every level. 

We must act now to address the extinction crisis by dramatically increasing funding for federal agencies charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act as well as for state agencies responsible for conserving thousands of other vulnerable species.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, Washington

The writer is president and chief executive of Defenders of Wildlife and a former U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service director.

I was an avid hunter, but, now that I am retired, I can no longer afford it. When I was young, farmers and ranchers would let people hunt free or for a minimal charge per day. I would hunt for birds 20 to 30 days per year and hunt for deer and other game (varmints) another 20 days per year. It was an inexpensive way to supplement the freezer and have fun doing it out communing with Mother Nature.

It cost $300 per day this past fall for white-winged dove hunting in South Texas. Deer hunting is anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per gun per day for land access. When you figure in the cost of accommodations, travel, meals, plus daily hunting fees, most people can no longer afford to take their children out for a weekend of hunting.

Where there is ample public land, it may not be so expensive, but even a lot of the public land has so many restrictions that it is really prohibiting hunting.

Access to hunting areas and land has become so expensive (and restrictive) that most hunters cannot afford it.

John Chailer, Houston